Revolution #75, January 7, 2007
Bogus History, Backward Thinking, and Bad Aims at Iran’s “Holocaust Conference”
The Holocaust took place in the period leading up to and during the second world war between imperialist powers, when Hitler's Nazi regime carried out horrific acts of mass murder in Germany and other countries. The Nazis started out with round-ups of communists and then targeted Jews, trade unionists, Roma people (often known as "Gypsies"), homosexuals, and others. As Hitler's troops invaded other lands, Poles, Slavs, Russians, and others fell victim to the Nazi death machine. By the end, six million Jews and millions of others had been killed in pogroms and massacres and in infamous extermination camps like Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor.
The Holocaust is one of the towering crimes in all of human history.
The Islamic Republic of Iran recently hosted an international conference which was an outrageous and extremely reactionary attempt to deny the historical fact of the Holocaust. Addressing the conference was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said that "they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred."
Now it is true that the actual reality and meaning of the Holocaust has been twisted and distorted by the U.S. imperialists and Israeli rulers to somehow justify the tremendous injustice against the Palestinian people: the massive theft of Palestinian land to establish the settler-colonial state of Israel in 1948, and the continuing oppression of Palestinians in brutal apartheid-like conditions. The fact of the Holocaust has been hypocritically manipulated to cover over and justify the reality that the state of Israel serves as a vicious and reliable attack dog for the U.S. rulers in this region and even in other far-flung parts of the world. And the hypocrisy here is really rank: the U.S. and Britain refused to bomb the train tracks that brought the poison gas to Auschwitz, and the Zionist leaders of the 1930s encouraged Jews in Europe to not resist the persecution and instead flee to Palestine.
But coming from an opposite pole of reactionary ideology and politics, the denial of the Holocaust by Ahmadinejad and other Islamic fundamentalists represents nothing remotely progressive or liberating for the masses of people. Just look at one of the featured guests at the Islamic Republic's Holocaust denial conference—David Duke, whose resume includes being the former "Imperial Wizard" of the KKK and a Louisiana state legislator. Duke is part of the whole ugly history of lynchings and the continuing reality of white supremacy in America. Clearly there are deep currents of fascism, religious fundamentalism, and anti-Semitism that attract those like Duke and Ahmadinejad toward each other.
The promotion of the idea that the Holocaust was a myth, contrary to mountains of actual historical records and evidence, is rooted in a whole anti-scientific epistemology (an understanding of the nature of truth and how people acquire knowledge) that Ahmadinejad and Iran's theocratic rulers operate on. In their worldview, truth is not arrived at by confronting reality as it is, but by absolutist adherence to religious texts. (And the Christian fundamentalists share this same epistemology of rigid and willful ignorance.) At the same time, facts that serve their aims are considered useful—and so Iran's theocratic rulers have, for example, developed their technology to a point where they may be able to develop nuclear weapons.
The masses of people in Iran are suffering through the nightmare that results when such an outlook commands society—a theocracy where medieval religious laws and rules control every aspect of political and social life…where, for example, women are lashed and stoned for simply being caught without a head covering.
Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial is also related to the whole vision of the Iranian Islamic regime to build itself up as a bigger power in the Middle East and spread its influence over various groups and among the masses of people in the region. As part of these goals, the fundamentalist rulers hope to gain moral authority among Palestinians and others who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine—not to support a genuine struggle against imperialism and the Israeli occupiers but to further their own reactionary aims in opposition to the U.S. And these moves and ambitions of Iran are increasingly on a crash course with the moves and grand ambitions of the U.S. rulers to radically transform the Middle East in their own imperialist interests.
Both the cynical manipulation of the Holocaust's legacy by the U.S. and Israel, on the one hand, and the outrageous denial of the Holocaust by the Iran's fundamentalist rulers, on the other, are distortions of history for reactionary aims. Neither is in the interests of the masses of people to support or unite with, and both must be rejected--because if you want to change the world in the real interests of humanity, truth not only matters, it is essential.
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